Spring is in the air, which to a lot of kids means baseballs are in the air also. So where in Orange County, North Carolina, can your child step up to the plate?
Here are a few different options sure to meet the needs of every kid–from the just curious to the major league hopeful:
Orange County NC Smart Start
OCPR, PO Box 8181, Hillsborough, NC 27278
For the youngest players (ages 3-5) and their parents, Orange County Parks and Recreation offers a six-week program called Smart Start Baseball/Softball. This program teaches children the skills of throwing, catching, batting, and running/agility to get them ready to participate in organized sports programs. Parent Participation is mandatory and the cost is $45 per child. This program runs on Saturdays in March and April from 9-10 am and is a great way for parents and children to bond while learning the fundamentals of America’s favorite game.
Hillsborough Youth Athletic Association (HYAA)
123 Daniel Boone St.
Hillsborough, NC 27278
HYAA in Hillsborough, N.C., offers a little league program for ages 4 through 13 for Fall Baseball and ages 4 through 15 for Spring Baseball. The cost is $85 for a single player with a $160 family maximum, and scholarships are available for players who cannot afford the fees. Registration for spring begins in February and the season goes from March until mid-June.
For fall ball, which is more relaxed and focused on learning fundamentals, registration begins in early August. There are no tryouts for T-ball (5-6) and Rookie League (7-8). For the Exchange (9-10) and Schley (11-12) leagues, evaluations of all players are conducted in order to form balanced teams. Players need to provide gloves for all leagues and bats for all leagues beyond T-ball. Pre-season practices are twice per week (1 weekday and Saturday). Regular season consists of a Saturday practice and 1 or 2 games during the week. T-ball will only play 1 game per week. Regular season ends in late May. Pre-season practices are limited. There will be 2-3 practices before the first game in fall because the season is much shorter (only 6-7 weeks). Practices are held during the week and games are played on Saturdays.
Town of Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill Town Hall
405 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd.
Chapel Hill, NC 27514
The Town of Chapel Hill offers a coed coach-pitch league for ages 7-8 and a player-pitch baseball league for boys ages 9-12. The season spans from early March until June and costs between $60 to $72 per player. The teams have two practices a week (1 weekday, 1 weekend) before games begin. Once games begin, teams will have one practice and two games per week. There is a skill evaluation to place players on well-matched teams.
Bull City Little League
Bull City Little League is located in North Durham, N.C., and has a spring season and a shorter, instructional, fall season for ages 4 – 16. All players undergo an absolute (not age-based) skills assessment which is followed by a team draft. During pre-season, one practice will be during the week in the evening and one practice will be on the weekend. Once games start, teams will average two games per week and will have a practice slot on the weekend. The spring generally has 15 or more games plus a playoff. The league provides each player with a jersey and hat, and players are responsible for providing their own glove as well as socks and baseball pants in colors the manager chooses. BCLL offers the following leagues: Rookie: modified coach pitch for ages 4-7, A: machine pitch for ages 5-9, AA: beginning player pitch for ages 8-11, AAA: more advanced player pitch for ages 8-11, Majors: top level player pitch for ages 10-12. The registration fee for spring 2012, is $150. The fall season is generally a little cheaper as there are fewer games played in the fall.
Carolina Baseball Club
Carolina Baseball Club, Inc.
P.O. Box 9892
Chapel Hill, NC 27515
If your child is looking for something more competitive than recreation programs, there is the Carolina Baseball Club. It is an all-volunteer, non-profit organization formed to support competitive youth baseball for ages 7 to 13. This group is based in Chapel Hill and competes in tournaments across the state. Players must try out to make teams and are placed according to their skill levels. They practice three times a week, receive pitching lessons from UNC’s pitching coach, Patrick Kierney, and UNC’s sports medicine program observes the team to make sure they are developing appropriately and that they do not injure themselves through bad form. The cost is $585 and includes the uniforms, coaching, travel expenses, and tournament fees.
Tanya Bartlett lives in Hillsborough, NC with her three children ages 8 through 13 who have all played youth little league in Orange County.